October 13, 2014

This is one of the questions I get all. the. time. People may love Instagram. Or they may not get it at all. But either way, they all want to know how they can actually make Instagram work for them and their business. Because, really, isn't it only all about photos?

Yes... and no.

So, here, in a sort of a wrap up of content, is how to make Instagram work for you!


Yes, Instagram is about photos. You can't post a text update, you can't share a link, and you can't share other people's content (unless you use a reposting app). You have to share a photo.

But, it's not "just" a photo. If you use Instagram effectively, a simple photo can be so much more than just a photo. It can be an ad, a promotion, a coupon, an announcement, a story, and so much more.

For my tips on creating the best images for Instagram, check out this post.


You may not realize it, but Instagram is also really good for videos. You can share videos up to 15 seconds in length to really connect with your audience on a more personal level. You can showcase products, answer frequently asked questions, offer tips, provide solutions, share a greeting, offer a promotion, and about a thousand other options.

Instagram videos produce very successful results, even though they aren't commonly used on the platform by many businesses. Take advantage of this option to boost your results!

For more information on how Instagram videos work and how to use them, check out this post.


Beyond just your (now) amazing photos or videos, you also have the ability to write whatever you need to say in the post caption. You can actually write up to 2200 characters in the caption, although I seriously don't recommend you write this much!

But the length of the captions allow you to write whatever it is you need to say. Use this real estate well to convey the message or information needed to your audience.

Use calls-to-action to tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. Whether it's visiting your site, calling you, emailing you, or coming into your business, you need to be clear about the action you want your audience to take.

For more on this, check out this post.


Seriously, this is maybe one of the best, if not the best way, to make Instagram work for you. Using the right hashtags the right way will make significant impacts in the reach of your posts, the engagement on your posts, and the speed with which you grow your audience.

I could go on for hours about hashtags, but instead, check out this post I already wrote on this exact topic.

The Right Instagram Bio

You can do all the right things on your Instagram posts and content, but if your bio isn't working for you, you're causing yourself way too much unnecessary grief. There are 5 key areas to focus on in your bio to make sure it's working for you.

You can read all about these things and how to pimp out your bio in this post.

Target Audience

It's actually really easy to grow your audience on Instagram. It's probably easier that almost any other social media site (with the exception - maybe - of Twitter). But that doesn't mean that you're growing the "right" audience.

It's imperative that, if you're using Instagram for business, you grow a targeted audience that is actually interested in your business. For a whole list of tips to make sure you build a loyal, targeted audience, check out this post.

And, now that you know who to get to follow you, you need to know how to get more of them to follow you. While it's not all about the numbers, the more targeted, relevant followers you have, the better your message will do. Here's my tips on how to grow your followers in this post.

Follow the Right People

Just as it's important to have the right people following you, you also want to follow the right people for your business. Who does this include? It could include your customers, business associates, competitors, influencers, and others.

For my best tips on who to follow, read this post.

Sell Your Stuff

Obviously, you're on Instagram to promote your business and sell your stuff. Whether it's your product or your service, you need to sell. This post has some tips that I've written previously on how to sell your products on Instagram.


Now that you have everything working for you on Instagram, you want to boost your traffic, grow your audience, and significantly improve your engagement rates. It's time to introduce contests into your Instagram strategy.

These are so easy to do and are insanely effective. To find out everything you need to know about running successful Instagram contests, check out this post.

Don't Use Instagram Like Other Sites

Instagram is Instagram. It isn't Twitter. It isn't Facebook (I've actually written about this here because it needs to be said!). It isn't like every other site so stop using it like every other site!

Yes, you have to create a unique Instagram strategy. Yes, you have to create unique content. Yes, you have to be creative. Yes, you have to take the time to do it well.

But, if you do it well, it will reward you well!

Track Your Analytics

If you're using Instagram for business, you need to track your analytics and progress. You need to know what's working and what isn't. And the best way to do this is with Iconosquare - a free desktop tool that provides you with a ton of Instagram analytics. I've written all about Iconosquare in this post.

There are other tools you can use. Some are free and some are paid services. Find the tool that works for you to ensure that you get all the data you need to successfully manage your Instagram account.


I know, this is a lot of information. But if implement even a few of these tips, you'll see immediate results in your Instagram success. Start with the things that are easiest for you to implement. Then add a few more to your strategy. Instagram is a highly rewarding marketing platform when you use it correctly.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Great article, Jenn. My biggest challenge right now is trying to do Instagram for more than one client. There are no scheduling apps that I know of and it is very time-consuming to post “live” several times a day. Any suggestions? I

    1. Thanks Laurie! I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂
      Unfortunately, that is one of the biggest issues with Instagram…. the only tool that I recommend is Schedugram which is a paid service and allows you to schedule posts. You could look into that.
      Otherwise, you could try using Hootsuite (see my post on using the Hootsuite Instagram app: http://jennstrends.com/manage-instagram-with-hootsuite/) to be able to monitor, comment, and like (but not post) for multiple IG accounts.

  2. Hi Jenn,
    I have a question regarding hashtags – how comes that some users are able to post far more than 30 hashtags per photo? I have seen it quite a few times, thought the limit was 30 and I’m not able to post more than 30.

    1. Hi Christine. They shouldn’t be able to post more than 30. Occasionally, what happens is that people will repost the same hashtags more than once – you can post the same exact hashtag more than once and it only counts as one.

        1. Good question, Julie. Some people do it by accident, not realizing they have already used that tag. Other times, they’ll repost the hashtag so that it refreshes the post in that hashtag’s search results.

  3. I wanted to know what your opinion is on instagram for blogs. I have had a personal instagram account for years and have followers that are all friends from college, high school, and just life in general. I also created a new account for my blog, thinking that I would keep things private on my personal account. I was wondering if you think it is best to create an instagram account specifically for the blog and to keep my other account personal, or is it better to combine the two.

    1. Hi Colleen! I love Instagram for bloggers 😉 I use it all the time to promote my blog! I also wrote a blog post on how bloggers can use Instagram which you can read here (http://www.jennstrends.com/how-bloggers-can-use-instagram/).
      As for which account to use, in your case, I would recommend you keep the two separate and focus on building a brand around your Instagram account for your blog. Set this account to public and share information and posts related to your blog, your brand, and your voice. You can mix in personal posts and posts that showcase what you do as a blogger, but that attract that ideal audience. This way you won’t bombard your friends and family with your blog content too 🙂

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